First half goals by Cristian Zapata and James Rodriguez gave Colombia a 2-0 lead it never relinquished and earned the Colombians a crucial victory over the USMNT in the curtain raiser in Group A of the Copa America Centenario Tournament in Santa Clara, California Friday Night.
Zapata’s right footed shot from a corner kick cross by Edwin Cardona found the bottom right corner and the Los Cafeteros had the 1-nil after just eight minutes.
The U.S. never built up any type of momentum when they had the ball and had no continuos possession that went beyond four forward passes past the half way life. The mid field play of the host was text book style and unimaginative.
The physical effort was there but the mental attributes needed to break down the stingy Colombia defense were lacking.The ability to look for secondary runners, switch the ball from one side of the field to the other, and play balls into space were far and few.
The hosts best chance in the first half came in the 36th minute when Clint Dempsey’s left footed shot from just outside the box beat Colombian keeper David Ospina but some how the ball sailed just left of the goal post for a goal kick.
The proverbial goals change games clique came to fruition for the U.S. just four minutes later when defender De Andre Yedlin was whistle for a hand ball inside the box and the Colombians were awarded a penalty kick that James Rodriguez converted for the 2-0 lead.
The U.S. offense continued its pedestrian pace for the first twenty minutes of the second half until the insertion of Darling Nagbe( Jermaine Jones) and Christian Pulisic (Bobby Wood) in the 66 minute. The infusion of young fresh legs in the middle of the field led to two Clint Dempsey chances that nearly brought the Yankees back in the match.
When the final whistle blew the U.S. dominated ball possession ( 53% to 47%), but it was the Colombians who dominated shot on goal ( 7-2) and goal scored.
James Rodríguez left the game in the 73rd minute with a shoulder injury and his status for Colombia’s June 7th against Paraguay at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena is to be determined. The U.S. will also be in action on June 7th in a must win game when it faces Costa Rica at Soldier Field in Chicago.